Thursday, July 26, 2012

musings on renovation

the dining room floor after we pulled up the fake wood vinyl

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack...
-- Talking Heads

I really want to write to my children. I want to write them letters and tell them how much they mean to me and who they were when they were tiny and who I was when they were tiny and who we grew into together.

When Isaac was a newborn I took a special little journal of handcrafted paper and carefully began an entry or two to this little being I barely knew.

Very quickly it became clear what was unclear – At what aged Isaac was I directing this writing? What kind of language made sense? Is he reading this as a 10-year-old? An adult? Other?

Then, very quickly after that it became clear that I could not keep up a journal to my newborn because I had a newborn.

When Obama was elected, I started another letter to Isaac. He was three then. I got farther with it, but it's still not finished.

I think it's a bit like our contractor who has never finished the renovation on his own house.

Yes, we have a contractor. We are moving ahead with putting a bathroom upstairs and creating a bedroom out of the store room. Why, Kitty, where will you store things? Meeee?? What on earth might I want to store? Everything is out in the open here, baby. Closets are for wusses; attics are for sissies; store rooms are for the weak and foolish!

The plumber is coming tomorrow. This may not sound like a threat to you, but when spoken to us by our contractor, it most certainly was. He was trying to get us to go choose the crap we want in the bathroom, and well, as you may have gathered from previous entries, we are stretched somewhat thin and this choosing activity has not been at the top of our to-do list.

And here is where we return to the idea of writing, sort of. Picking out fixtures is a bit like choosing a font – You can look at a whole alphabet/style line together and decide on the style that suits you – Serifs? Sans serifs? Square head faucets? Bold hardware? Italic? Condensed? Brushed nickel finish? You may like the main line, but then you see the F or the towel rack and you think, “No! No! No! That won't do! Why's that swirly thing swirling there?”

And while you are still caught in the showroom delirium wondering how and why anyone would bother to spend two hours doing this and screw it let's just go to a store and buy our own damn towel rack that's in stock and a helluva lot cheaper even if the contractor won't guarantee it for a year like he will if we spend 5x as much on it, and you suddenly have this revelation that will change your life forever: OMG. I now understand why Home Depot exists and maybe it's a good thing that it does. It was like when I learned that only the female mosquito bites, the males – wait for it – pollinate flowers.

The only person who was probably less excited than we were today about picking out shower valves and vent fans was our contractor who was calling messages in to the plumbing show room from his long weekend camping in the Berkshires. (Another path I wonder about – one minute you decide to go to school for architectural design because you like lines and you can visualize space well and the next you are talking to people about where the toilet paper holder should go...)

And you may find yourself using the word sconces more than you ever thought possible. Yet, it's a good word. A good word. Maybe even making my top 100 list. And here, again, is where we return to the idea of writing. Because, in fact, we always return to the idea of writing. What a relief.

dining room floor refinished

1 comment:

jaykaym said...

We had a similar reaction to picking out the tile for our bathroom renovation. After HOURS, maybe days, looking at tile the moment of truth had come - we had to order it by the next day or our contractor would put our project on hold and move on to another client. Our contractor called the closest tile store and talked to the salesperson. He told them that we would be arriving at 7 pm that evening and that they were not to let us leave until we had picked the tile. They had to keep the store open after closing time since we were still dithering. FINALLY, we picked a white tile with black stone trim. Very plain, very easy. Turns out it was the same tile that that the contractor would have picked for us had we just told him to do this for us. He had spent enough time with us that he knew us better than we knew ourselves. Ten years later I still like our choice. But when I told him to just go buy a towel bar and put it up - how hard could that be - I came home from work, looked at it, and ripped it off the wall before the tile mastic set. It was in a location that when a towel was hanging down would have interfered with the both the toilet paper access and the heating vent. So, you just never know... Good luck with your project. You will survive this.

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